Budget 2010 will see vicious cuts being imposed on ordinary working people across Ireland to pay the massive costs of the bailout of Ireland’s banking system. A deeply unpopular government, in the service of the richest 1% of the population, intends to impose cuts and tax hikes totalling 6 billion euro, cuts which will be supervised by the ECB and IMF. Thousands are expected to gather at at the Dáil with the first protest taking place early this morning, when Gardai hastily tore the slogans off a cherry picker that had been placed outside the Dáil.
The WSM will be providing live coverage of the cuts and the protests as they take place. We are taking part in the 1% Network protest which will assemble at the Wolfe Tone statue on Stephen’s Green (opposite the Shelbourne) at 5.30 before marching on the Dail around 6. Read more at WSM to join anti-Budget protests and calls on workers to organise for a general strike. Below you can find the latest news posted to our twitter account, and below this again the latest updates from twitter, mobile phone and our media monitoring team.
What’s in the budget?
– Health cuts
– 5% Cuts in social welfare
– 5% cuts in ordinary public sector workers pensions
– Cuts in child benefit
– Increase in college fees
– Rearranging the taxation system
– Low paid workers who were previously exempt from tax forced to pay tax despite a simultaneous reduction in minimum wage.
– Reducing tax credits.
This budget is clearly going to attack ordinary people. People on minimum wage could face an 11% reduction in pay, new taxes and reduction in child benefit. Social welfare recipients will lose 5% and face possibly other cuts in relation rent relief aswell as the cuts in child benefit.
What is coming
This budget is only the first in four years of attacks on our living standards and services. The government recently published a draft memorandum that will give legal effect to the negotiations between the EU/IMF and Ireland. Essentially, the draft reveals, by quarter of each year, how the government intends to implement an incredibly far-reaching austerity program to help get us back on our feet. Read more at Fianna Fail, EU and IMF protect the most vulnerable?!?
Two weeks ago the government brought out their so-called “Four Year Plan”, dubbed by the tabloids “A war on the poor”. This plan will see budgets like the one served up today (Read more analysis of the four year plan ). Although the government are claiming to be “frontloading the pain” in this budget, this sounds ominously like the promise that last year’s budget of 3 billion euro in cuts was going to be the worst.
Although Brian Lenihan will hardly be able to call this budget “a call to patriotic duty” as he did last year, he will no doubt tell us this will help alleviate a crisis. Hidden behind the rhetoric are the real benefactors of the budget. First and foremost, the bondholders who risked and lost will win, while we will continue to foot to pay the bill for their gambling. They are not the only ones.
For years, the employer’s federation IBEC have been calling for a minimum wage reduction. Today’s budget will see that minimum wage reduced by a euro an hour in a cynical use of the recession to get even more money. This reduction in minimum wage, effectively an 11% pay cut for the lowest paid workers, is a direct transferral of wealth from the poorest workers to some of the richest. The highest earners will benefit as well, as it does not in any way attempt to make them pay in a meaningful way.
Fianna Fáil expect that, for this service to the wealthy 1%, they will lost the forthcoming general election. The new government will be able to blame Fianna Fáil and the ECB/IMF for the cuts they are imposing. But there won’t really be much to celebrate if, as seems certain, we end up with a government which might not be called Fianna Fáil but which will be implementing exactly the same ‘screw-the-workers, protect-the-wealthy’ policies. Read more at Opinion Polls suggest Fianna Fail about to be annihilated, But should this worry us?
In all the doom and gloom there has been examples of successful resistance, including the pensioners’ opposition to planned cut backs on medical card entitlements. We can defeat the 1%, but only if we organise to fight them. Last week’s massive march by ICTU (Read our report) was followed up with UNITE being the first major union to call for a general strike. After ICTU’s failure to deliver on the national strike on March 30th 2009, the success of any major union action will only happen if the grassroots of unions organise for it. Read more about organising for a general strike